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Cuban President Raul Castro has spoken publicly for the first time against President Donald Trump’s rollback of a thaw between the two countries a month ago.

Raul Castro said “attempts to destroy the revolution” would fail.

President Trump has tightened restrictions on US travel to and business with Cuba.

However, the US embassy in Havana, re-opened by former President Barack Obama, is still operating.

Fidel Castro Death: Donald Trump Calls Cuban Leader “Brutal Dictator”

President Castro was speaking in front of Cuba’s national assembly. It was his first public comment on the policy changes President Trump announced a month ago.

State-run Cuban media quoted President Castro as saying that President Trump was using “old and hostile rhetoric” and had returned to “confrontation that roundly failed over 55 years”.

The Cuban president said: “We reject the manipulation of the topic of human rights against Cuba, which can be proud of much in this area and does not need to receive lessons from the United States nor anyone.”

Barack Obama and Raul Castro Hold Historic Joint News Conference

Donald Trump anchored his policy rollback in human rights concerns raised by political opponents of Cuba’s communist government, many of whom have fled to Miami where the president announced the changes on June 16.

President Castro continued: “Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live side by side, respecting their differences. But no one should expect that for this, one should have to make concessions inherent to one’s sovereignty and independence.”

Raul Castro will step down as president in seven months, but will remain the head of the country’s Communist Party.


Cuba’s lively capital is one of a kind. Crumbling and gorgeous, lively but relaxed, peaceful but revolutionary, Havana is a place of delightful contrasts and offers its visitors incredible experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. From driving a 1950s Cadillac through the candy coloured streets to enjoying a delicious mojito in a cosy cabana bar, there are some things only to be enjoyed in Havana. Here are the top unique experiences you need to head to Havana to enjoy today:

Cuban Cigars

Whilst you may have enjoyed a Cuban cigar before, enjoying one in Havana in a Cuban cabana bar accompanied by the pulsating salsa rhythms and a deliciously minty mojito is something that doesn’t quite compare.

Image source Wikimedia

Salsa Dancing

Salsa dancing in Cuba is hotter and more alive than salsa anywhere else in the world. From watching local dance groups perform in the city’s salsa clubs, to the open dance floors where you can try out a few of your own, salsa dancing in Havana is livelier and more exciting than anywhere else, try club 1830 for a special outdoor dance experience.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Cuba’s most famous hotel, located in the Vedado area can be explored with tours regularly each day to the famous building. Home to guests such as Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney and Winston Churchill, it’s a building that houses a pretty impressive past guest list, not to mention its ancient splendour and impressive views of the Havana harbour on offer.


To the west of the city lies the impressive Siboney boulevard. Beautiful 1950s mansions line the streets of the tree lined boulevard in an array of candy coloured hues. A stroll along the street is enough to transport you back in time to a forgotten era of unique Cuban glamour and decadence.

Classic Cocktails

Havana is the home of rum cocktails and enjoying one in the home of Cuban rum is a must, Strong, sweet and deliciously limey the refreshing cocktails you’re served in Havana go down so easily, you’ll be heading back to the bar in no time.

With Havana serving up some of the most incredible and unique experiences, it’s a must visit location to add your list. Head there today with Cuba’s lively capital for a once in a lifetime trip to a city that’s like nowhere else on earth.

Cuban business owners have appealed to Donald Trump not to reverse a recent thaw in bilateral relations.

In a letter, more than one hundred business owners said additional measures to boost travel, trade and investment would benefit both nations.

The president-elect, who takes office on January 20, has said he will end a deal under which ties were restored in 2015 unless Havana offers a “better deal”.

Cuba hopes to sign 12 agreements with the United States before Donald Trump’s inauguration.

On December 7, officials from both governments held talks in Havana to discuss how this could be achieved during President Barack Obama’s remaining weeks in office.

Cuban Foreign Ministry’s Director of US Affairs Josefina Vidal said: “At the moment we are negotiating 12 more [agreements] with the aim to be able to conclude and sign a majority of them.”

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Josefina Vidal said that a number of agreements had already been signed with Washington since 2015.

She also expressed hopes that the bilateral relations would continue improving but “within the respect of the existing differences and without having to make any kind of concession to the principles in which Cuba firmly believes”.

Barack Obama has worked to improve relations with Cuba, culminating in his historic visit to Havana in March 2016.

In November, Donald Trump threatened in a tweet to put an end to the detente following the death of Fidel Castro.

He said that if “Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the US as a whole, I will terminate deal”.

Donald Trump’s camp accuses the Obama administration of giving too much away to Cuba without receiving enough in return.

Under President Barack Obama, diplomatic ties were restored in July 2015 after being severed in 1961.

Some trade restrictions have been eased and the White House has been lobbying the US Congress to terminate the Cuban economic embargo that has been in place for decades.


The ashes of late Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro have been laid to rest in the city of Santiago, nine days after his death at the age of 90.

Crowds lined the streets to see the cortege heading to the Santa Ifigenia cemetery for a private ceremony.

On December 3, Fidel Castro’s brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, promised “to defend the fatherland and socialism”.

In a family ceremony, Fidel Castro’s ashes were interred next to those of the 19th Century Cuban independence hero, Jose Marti.

The city of Santiago is known as the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution.fidel-castro-funeral

The funeral brings an end to nine days of national mourning across Cuba.

Fidel Castro’s remains arrived in December 3 in Santiago after a four-day journey from the capital, Havana.

He was part of the small group of revolutionaries who launched an attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago on July 26, 1953.

The attacked failed, but it was considered the first act of the revolution that would depose the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.

Raul Castro took over when his brother’s health deteriorated in 2006.

The Cuban president has announced that his government will ban naming any monuments or roads after Fidel Castro, at the request of the late leader who “strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of personality”.


The final tributes to late Cuban leader Fidel Castro have been led by his brother, President Raul Castro, at a ceremony in the city of Santiago.

Tens of thousands of Cubans attended the event, as well as world leaders.

The Cuban president vowed to honor the socialist principles and goals of the revolution led by Fidel Castro, who died on November 25 at the age of 90.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

Raul Castro also announced that Cuba would ban naming any monuments or roads after Fidel Castro, at the request of the late leader.

“The leader of the revolution strongly opposed any manifestation of cult of personality,” said Raul Castro.

No statues or busts of Fidel Castro will be erected in Cuba, he said.

The urn with his ashes will be interred on December 4 in Santiago, known as the birthplace as the Cuban Revolution.

It arrived on December 3 in Santiago, after a four-day journey from the capital, Havana.

Large crowds shouting “Long live Fidel!” and “I am Fidel!” greeted his funeral cortege through the streets of Santiago.

The leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have attended the ceremony.

Fidel Castro was part of the small group of revolutionaries who launched an attack on the barracks on July 26, 1953.

The attacked failed, but it was considered the first act of the revolution that would depose the US-backed government of Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.

Supporters say Fidel Castro returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programs, such as public health and education.

However, critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.

Raul Castro took over when his brother’s health deteriorated in 2006.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will be placed in the Ifigenia Cemetery, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.


The late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has been honored with a mass rally in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The gathering began with the national anthem and ended with a tribute from Fidel Castro’s brother, President Raul Castro.

The rallywas attended by a number of world leaders – but some countries sent lower-level officials.

Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959, died on November 25 at the age of 90. His ashes will be taken to the eastern city of Santiago on November 30.

Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.fidel-castro-funeral

Supporters say Fidel Castro returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programs, such as public health and education.

However, critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.

This division led to some countries, such as the US, sending lower-ranking emissaries. However, allies including left-wing Latin American leaders were among those attending the ceremony in Revolution Square, where Cubans once gathered to listen to Fidel Castro’s fiery speeches.

On November 29, the crowd chanted “long live the revolution!” and “Fidel! Fidel!” as the rally got under way.

President Raul Castro closed the rally, referring to his brother as the leader of a revolution “for the humble, and by the humble”.

Greece’s left-wing PM Alexis Tsipras was among those who addressed the crowd. The presidents of Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Panama, South Africa and Zimbabwe also attended.

In his speech, South African President Jacob Zuma praised Cuba’s record on health care and education and its support for African countries.

On November 29, the left-wing presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro, were among those who signed a book of condolences at the Jose Marti memorial where a photograph flanked by an honor guard has been on display since November 28.

Another admirer of Fidel Castro, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, was joining the two presidents at the commemoration.

However, many Western leaders are not attending the event in person.

The White House announced that its nominee for the post of ambassador to Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes would attend the commemorative event but that it was not sending an “official delegation” to Cuba.

Ben Rhodes was one of the US officials who negotiated the thaw between the United States and the Cuban government announced in December 2014.

On November 28, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to end the detente if Cuba did not offer a “better deal”.

On November 30, Fidel Castro’s ashes will be taken on a journey to Santiago, which is regarded as the Cuba’s 1959 revolution.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will be placed on December 4 in the Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.


Cuba’s dissident group The Ladies in White has called off its traditional protest for the first time in 13 years following Fidel Castro’s death.

The group says the decision is to avoid tensions.

The Ladies in White, formed by wives of jailed dissidents, has long defied a protest ban in Cuba with a weekly march.

Fidel Castro died on November 25 at the age of 90. Flags are flying at half mast as Cuba observes nine days of mourning.

From November 28, people will be able to pay their respects at memorials and rallies before Fidel Castro’s ashes are taken to Santiago de Cuba where he launched his bid for power.

Ladies in White members were detained during a protest march in Cuba

A mass public ceremony is planned at Havana’s Revolutionary Square on November 29.

There have been further celebrations in Miami where many anti-Castro Cuban exiles and their families have settled.

Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and ushered in a Communist revolution.

Supporters say Fidel Castro returned Cuba to the people, and praise him for some of his social programs, such as public health and education.

Critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent, accused of numerous alleged human rights abuses.

The regular Sunday march of the Ladies in White is a rare expression of dissent largely tolerated by the government.

The women march in silence through the streets of Havana following Mass at a Roman Catholic Church, asking for the release of political prisoners and for human rights to be respected.

“We’re not going to march today [Sunday] so that the government does not take it as a provocation and so that they can pay their tributes,” the group’s leader, Berta Soler, said.

“We respect the mourning of others and will not celebrate the death of any human being.”

In a tweet reacting to Fidel Castro’s death, the Ladies in White said: “Fidel Castro has died, may God forgive him, I WON’T.”

Cuban authorities say the Ladies in White are in the pay of the United States and form part of Washington’s “decades-old effort to undermine Cuba’s socialist revolution”.

The government says there are no political prisoners in Cuba.


President-elect Donald Trump has said Fidel Castro was a “brutal dictator”, hours after the former Cuban leader’s death was announced.

Donald Trump, who takes office in January 20, said he hoped Cubans could move towards a freer future.

Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and ushered in a Communist revolution. He defied the US for decades, surviving many assassination plots.

His supporters said he returned Cuba to the people. Critics called him a dictator.

Raul Castro, who succeeded him as president, announced his death on state television on November 25.

In a statement, Donald Trump said that while Cuba remained “a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve”.

Image source Flickr

Image source Flickr

The US cut ties with Cuba in 1961 amid rising Cold War tensions and imposed a strict economic embargo which remains in place more than half a century on.

Under President Barack Obama, the relationship warmed and diplomatic ties were restored in 2015.

Donald Trump roundly criticized Barack Obama’s policy on the campaign trail but made no mention of his pledge to reverse it in his statement, saying his administration would do all it could to ensure Cubans could “begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty”.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, said history would “record and judge the enormous impact” of Fidel Castro. America was extending “a hand of friendship to the Cuban people” at this time, he added.

Fidel Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century. He had been retired from political life for several years, after handing power to his brother in 2006 because of illness.

He will be cremated on November 26 at a private ceremony in Havana and a period of official mourning has been declared in Cuba until December 4, when his ashes will be laid to rest in the south-eastern city of Santiago.

In Miami, where there is a large Cuban community, there have been celebrations in some parts of the city, with people banging pots and cheering.


Cuba has declared nine days of national mourning following the death of former President and leader of communist revolution Fidel Castro on November 25.

Cubans will be given a chance to bid farewell to Fidel Castro in a mass gathering to be held in Revolution Square in Havana on November 29, Cuba’s Council of State has announced.

Fidel Castro’s ashes will then be taken along the “Caravan of Freedom”, the path he and his guerrilla fighters took during the Cuban Revolution.

His ashes will be laid to rest on December 4. A period of official mourning has been declared until that day.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

During the official mourning period, radio and television will broadcast “informative, patriotic and historic” programs, Cuba’s Council of State announced.

Flags will fly at half mast and there will be no public events apart from those related to Fidel Castro’s death.

His ashes will be laid to rest in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

A grandiose cemetery, Santa Ifigenia was built in 1868 for the victims of the War of Independence.

It is the resting place of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

Fidel Castro died on November 25 at the age of 90.His death was announced last night by his brother, President Raul Castro.


Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, has announced in an unexpected late night broadcast on state TV.

Raul Castro said: “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening.”

Fidel Castro was Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution.

He ruled the country as one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul Castro took over in 2008.

Rau Castro’s supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing opposition.

Ashen and grave, the president told the nation that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated on November 26.Fidel Castro criticizes US before embassy reopening

There would now be several days of national mourning in Cuba.

Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was Washington’s bête noire.

An accomplished tactician on the battlefield, Fidel Castro and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support.

Within two years of taking power, Fidel Castro declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied Cuba firmly to the Soviet Union.

Yet, despite the constant threat of a US invasion as well as the long-standing economic embargo on Cuba, Fidel Castro managed to maintain a communist revolution in a nation just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

Despised by his critics as much as he was revered by his followers, Fidel Castro outlasted ten US presidents and defied scores of attempts on his life by the CIA.

In April 2016, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of Cuba’s Communist Party congress.

He acknowledged his advanced age but said Cuban communist concepts were still valid and the Cuban people “will be victorious”.

“I’ll soon be 90,” he said, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined”.

“Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come,” Fidel Castro said.

Fidel Castro temporarily handed over the power to his brother in 2006 as he was recovering from an acute intestinal ailment.

Raul Castro officially became Cuba’s president in 2008.


Hurricane Matthew has strengthened into a Category 4 on October 1, with winds reaching up to 145mph, making its way towards Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, forecasters say.

Matthew is the strongest Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean since Felix back in 2007.

According to the US National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to hit Haiti and Jamaica on October 3.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

Haiti has begun evacuating residents from high-risk areas.

Residents have been frantically stocking up on emergency supplies.

Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness has urged citizens to make all preparations before it is too late.

However, he told Reuters that Jamaica was prepared for the category 4 hurricane.

In Jamaica, the powerful storm is expected to bring up to 25 inches of rain, which could trigger life-threatening landslides and floods, according to forecasters.

In the capital Kingston, supermarkets were crowded with people looking for canned foods, water and flashlights.

Officials have warned the high winds could batter the country’s main tourist areas including Montego Bay in the north.

In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, residents from outlying islands have been evacuated, and officials have banned boating.

The hurricane is expected to cause up to 40 inches of rain in Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Cuba on October 4, potentially hitting the colonial city of Santiago de Cuba and the US Navy base of Guantanamo Bay.

A mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel, including about 700 family members of military personnel, was underway at the base and everyone remaining there was being told to take shelter, the Navy said in a statement.

There are about 5,500 people living on the base, including 61 men held at the detention centre.

Cuban President Raul Castro traveled to Santiago to supervise preparations.


JetBlue Flight 387 has become the first US commercial flight to land in Cuba after more than half a century.

The plane had 150 passengers, including US transport secretary Anthony Foxx.

The aircraft took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 09:45 EDT and landed in Santa Clara in central Cuba about an hour later.

The flight marks the latest development between US and Cuba since they restored diplomatic ties in December 2014.

The last time an American airline flew scheduled service to Cuba was in 1961 on a propeller plane, according to Marty St George, the executive vice president of JetBlue.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

To commemorate the occasion, the plane received a water cannon salute, which traditionally marks a special occasion for a ship or aircraft.

Since the US thawed relations with Cuba, embassies have been re-opened in Washington and Havana, President Barack Obama visited the island and a US cruise ship sailed to the country in May.

The Obama administration has approved 10 US-based airlines for regular passenger jet service to Cuba, offering as many as 110 daily flights.

The approved airlines include: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country and United Airlines.

Tourism to Cuba is still banned in the US, but the Obama administration eased rules last year to make it easier for Americans to access the long-isolated nation under 12 categories of “authorized travel”.


The Pentagon has announced it has sent 15 Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This is the largest single transfer during President Barack Obama’s administration.

According to the Pentagon, the transfer of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans brings the total number of prisoners down to 61 at the US facility in Cuba.

The released prisoners had been held without charge, some for over 14 years.

President Barack Obama wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison before he leaves office.

The White House also wants to transfer the remaining detainees to the US – but has been blocked by Congress.Afghan detainees released from Guantanamo Bay prison

Barack Obama believes Guantanamo Bay fuels the recruitment of jihadists and creates stronger anti-US feelings.

In a statement on August 15, the Pentagon said: “The United States is grateful to the government of the United Arab Emirates for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

In April, nine Yemeni prisoners were sent to Saudi Arabia.

The Guantanamo Bay prison is located on an American naval base in south-eastern Cuba.

Ex-President George W. Bush opened the jail in January 2002 to accommodate foreign terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The facility, which costs $445 million to run annually, one point held more than 700 detainees.

In February 2016, the White House presented a plan to Congress to close the camp.

However, many Republicans remain strongly opposed to bringing prisoners to the US, saying they are extremely dangerous and do not belong in civilian prisons.

Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, condemned the latest releases, saying: “Once again, hardened terrorists are being released to foreign countries where they will be a threat.”

Most of the inmates freed from Guantanamo Bay – a total of 532 – were released under the previous administration of George W. Bush.

The office of the director of national intelligence says 21% of those went on to re-engage in militant activities, while of those released under President Barack Obama only 5% have done so.

Donald Trump has vowed to keep the Guantanamo Bay facility open, saying he will fill it with “bad dudes” and “bring back a hell of a lot worse than water boarding”, referring to the controversial interrogation technique human rights activists regard as torture.

Naureen Shah, security and human rights program director for Amnesty International US, urged President Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay prison before he left office, saying: “We are at an extremely dangerous and pivotal point.”


Cuba’s ex President Fidel Castro has made a rare public appearance at an event to mark his 90th birthday on Saturday, August 13.

Fidel Castro appeared at a gala in Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre with his brother, President Raul Castro, and Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

In his first public appearance since April, Fidel Castro appeared frail and remained seated during the event.

Fidel Castro, who stood down in 2008, had earlier attacked President Barack Obama in a newspaper column.Fidel Castro criticizes US before embassy reopening

The former Cuban leader criticized President Obama for not apologizing to the people of Hiroshima for the nuclear bomb dropped there by the US in World War Two.

Barack Obama visited Hiroshima in May.

Fidel Castro wrote: “He lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people.”

Ties between the United States and Cuba have been restored under Raul Castro’s presidency, but after a visit by Barack Obama to Havana in March, Fidel Castro wrote that “we don’t need the empire to give us anything”.

The gala in Havana focused on key moments of Fidel Castro’s life, including the CIA-backed invasion attempt in the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

A large street party was also held in Havana on August 12, and fireworks exploded when the clock hit midnight.


The 90th birthday of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been marked by a veteran cigar maker with what is believed to be the world’s longest cigar.

The masterpiece is 90 meters long and took 10 days to create with the help of several assistants.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

The cigar was presented on long tables in an old colonial fort overlooking the harbor of Havana.

Jose Castelar and his team worked 12 hours a day for 10 days to roll the cigar, which is the width of an ordinary one.

The length of the cigar was verified by a British Embassy official, who said the information would be sent to be verified by Guinness World Records.

Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926. He governed the Republic of Cuba as prime minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as president from 1976 to 2008.


Cuba will not return to the Organization of American States (OAS), says President Raul Castro in a show of solidarity with Venezuela.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almargo has called for sanctions against Venezuela.

At a summit of Caribbean countries in Havana, President Raul Castro called the OAS “an instrument of imperialist domination”.

Meanwhile, former Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has met jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

It was Leopoldo Lopez’s first visit from anyone other than family members or lawyers since the 45-year-old was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year after being found guilty of inciting violence.Raul Castro Cuba US ties

Leopoldo Lopez’s supporters insist he is innocent and say he was jailed on trumped-up, politically-motivated charges.

The meeting at Ramo Verde military prison outside Caracas lasted about 90 minutes, according to Adriana Lopez, the opposition leader’s sister.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is trying to negotiate between the opposition and the government in Venezuela’s worsening political crisis.

Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962 but following a recent thaw in relations with the US it was suggested that the island might return.

However, Raul Castro appeared to rule out the possibility, offering “our most firm solidarity to our brothers the Venezuelan people, to the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro”.

President Nicolas Maduro is locked in a dispute with the OAS over opposition demands in Venezuela for a recall referendum.

Luis Almargo said earlier this week that “the institutional crisis in Venezuela demands immediate changes in the actions of the executive branch”.

He has called an emergency meeting of the OAS at which member states will decide whether to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could lead to Venezuela’s suspension from the OAS.


Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has broken his silence over President Barack Obama’s Cuba visit in a damning letter published in state-run newspaper Granma.

Fidel Castro, who handed power to his brother Raul a decade ago, said Cuba didn’t need any gifts from the “empire”.

He described Barack Obama’s words of reconciliation as “syrupy” and warned they could give Cubans a heart attack.

President Barack Obama had suggested that it was time to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.Fidel Castro about Barack Obama visit to Cuba

In his 1,500-word letter, Fidel Castro also reminded readers of the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, in which a CIA-sponsored paramilitary force of Cuban exiles attempted to take over the island.

However, Fidel Castro also said his “modest suggestion” was that Barack Obama “reflects and doesn’t try to develop theories about Cuban politics”.

During his visit, Barack Obama invoked “a future of hope” for Cuba in an unprecedented live TV address delivered from the Grand Theater in Havana.

Barack Obama told Cuban President Raul Castro that he did not need to fear a threat from the US nor from “the voice of the Cuban people”.

The US president also called for the lifting of the 54-year old US trade embargo against Cuba, a remark which was met by loud applause.

The embargo remains one of the main sticking points in US-Cuban relations but can only be lifted by the US Congress.

Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba was the first by a president since the Communist revolution in 1959.


Tens of thousands of Cubans have attended The Rolling Stones concert in Havana, where most foreign rock music was banned for several decades.

Many of those at the free concert were lifelong fans who for years had to keep quiet about their love of the Stones and other groups.

Mick Jagger welcomed fans in Spanish before opening the performance with the 1968 hit Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

The Stones’ concert comes days after a historic visit by President Barack Obama.

Tens of thousands of Cubans queued for hours to get into the grounds of Havana’s huge 450,000-capacity Ciudad Deportiva venue.

Photo Twitter

Photo Twitter

The band swept through 18 songs in a two-hour gig, including Sympathy for the Devil and Satisfaction.

The gig is being seen as another sign of real change on the island. Until about 15 years ago Cuba’s communist government banned most Western rock and pop music, which was deemed decadent and subversive.

Fans traveled from many parts of Cuba and other countries to witness what some described as a historic moment.

The Rolling Stones released a short video saying their concert was a sign of change in Cuba.

“Time changes everything. So we’re very pleased to be here,” said Mick Jagger.

“It would have been surprising for this to happen 10 years ago.”

Cuban authorities said they expected at least half a million people to watch the Stones’ first concert in Cuba.

Set List

Jumpin’ Jack Flash

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)

Tumbling Dice

Out of Control

All Down the Line


Paint It Black

Honky Tonk Women

You Got the Silver

Before They Make Me Run

Midnight Rambler

Miss You

Gimme Shelter

Start Me Up

Sympathy for the Devil

Brown Sugar

Encores: You Can’t Always Get What You Want. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction


Tens of thousands of people have attended a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Cuban capital Havana on his first visit to the Communist-ruled island.

Cuba’s President Raul Castro, not a practicing Catholic, attended the event Havana’s iconic Revolution Square.

Later Pope Francis also met the president’s brother and predecessor, Fidel Castro.

Pope Francis, who is at the start of his Cuba and US trip, has been credited with helping the recent thaw in diplomatic ties between both countries.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

After his arrival on September 19, the pontiff hailed improving ties between Cuba and the US as “an example of reconciliation for the whole world”.

Pope Francis also urged both Cuba and the US to “persevere on the path” of detente.

Security services were seen arresting at least three people who were shouting and attempting to distribute flyers at the edge of Revolution Square as the Mass got under way.

On his way to the service Pope Francis stopped to greet some of the thousands who had come out to see him.

During his homily the Pope said that “Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable”.

After the Mass, Pope Francis met Fidel Castro at his house in Havana for about 30 minutes.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis and Fidel Castro exchanged books as gifts.


Pope Francis has arrived in Havana, on his first visit to Cuba.

The pontiff will spend four days in Cuba before flying to the US.

The first pope to hail from Latin America, Pope Francis is credited with helping the recent thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Cuban President Raul Castro has thanked the Pope for his contribution. Cities on Pope Francis’ itinerary have been renovated in preparation for the visit.

On September 17, the Vatican said it hoped it would help bring to an end the 53-year-old US embargo and lead to more freedom and human rights on the island.

On September 18, the US announced eased restrictions on business and travel with Cuba, the latest move by President Barack Obama to improve relations.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner also arrived in Cuba on September 19 and will attend a Mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis on Havana’s iconic Revolution Square.

Workers have been building a huge altar and stands for the congregation and choir on the square.

Ahead of Pope Francis’s visit, streets have been newly paved in Havana, and the cathedral has been renovated.

The airport terminal has also been renovated.

In the city of Holguin where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on September 21, the cathedral has been repaired and repainted.

Officials say nearly 1,000 Cuban and foreign journalists are expected to cover the visit.

Pope Francis’s trip will also take him to the US for the first time as Pope.

In 1998, Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Cuba, saying: “May Cuba… open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.”

Pope Benedict XVI also visited Cuba in 2012.


The US flag has been raised over the reopened embassy in Cuba after more than 54 years since it was closed.

The reopening of the US embassy in Havana is a symbolic step signaling the warming of ties between both countries.

John Kerry, who presided over the ceremony in Havana, is the first US Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years.

The US flag was presented by the same US marines who brought it down in 1961.

Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington in July.

However, issues remain, with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro blasting the US for not lifting its trade embargo.

In an open letter on August 13, Fidel Castro said the US owed Cuba millions of dollars because of its 53-year-long embargo. The letter makes no mention of today’s reopening of the US embassy.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

John Kerry described the hoisting of the flag as a “historic moment” speaking during the ceremony on August 14.

He also warned that the US would not stop pressing for political change in Cuba.

“The people of Cuba would be best served by a genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders,” John Kerry told a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the embassy building.

In the past, John Kerry conceded, US policies have not led to democracy.

“Cuba’s future is for Cubans to shape,” he added.

Three retired marines who lowered the American flag for the last time on January 4, 1961, handed it over to marines to raise it once again in Havana as the American national anthem played.

Cuban leader Raul Castro and President Barack Obama agreed to restore ties in December 2014.

While trade and travel restrictions have been relaxed, the Republican-led US Congress has not lifted the trade embargo the US imposed on the communist-run island in 1960.

Cuba says the embargo – which it calls a blockade – is hugely damaging to its economy.

It says relations will be fully restored only once it is lifted.

Fidel Castro’s open letter was published in state newspaper Granma to mark his 89th birthday.


Fidel Castro has made a rare public appearance at a cheese meeting in Havana.

State television showed images of the former Cuban leader at a meeting with cheese experts near the capital, Havana.

Fidel Castro, 88, handed power to his younger brother Raul in 2006 after struggling to recover from illness.

His appearance comes days after Cuba and the US announced they were reopening embassies in each other’s capitals on July 20.Fidel Castro cheese meeting Havana

Fidel Castro is rarely seen in public, and secrecy about his health means his public appearances are scrutinized by the media.

The historic thaw between Cuba and the US was announced on December 17, in joint media conferences by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

There was no immediate comment from Fidel Castro, and analysts said the rapprochement would not have happened if he was still in power.

Just over a month later, Fidel Castro broke his silence in a letter published on the Cuban Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States… but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” the Cuban leader wrote.

Relations had been frozen since the early 1960s when the US broke links and imposed a trade embargo on Cuba.


Francois Hollande has arrived in Havana to meet former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on a historic trip to the Communist island.

The French president is using the one-day trip to Cuba to build business and diplomatic relations five months after a detente between Havana and Washington.

Fidel Castro and Francois Hollande’s meeting was due at 15:00 local time on May 11, away from TV cameras, said the Elysee Palace.

Francois Hollande is the first French president to visit Cuba since 1898.

Speaking at the University of Havana, Francois Hollande said France would do its utmost to ensure that “the measures which have so badly harmed Cuba’s development can finally be repealed”.Francois Hollande in Cuba

Francois Hollande was referring to the US trade embargo with Cuba, which remains in place, although relations between the US and Cuba have improved in recent months.

He was due to meet his current Cuban counterpart, Fidel Castro’s brother and successor Raul, later on Monday evening.

The visit is the first trip by a Western head of state to the Communist island since the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the US was announced in December 2014.

Francois Hollande announced plans to double the number of scholarships to enable Cuban students to continue their studies in France, as part of attempts to increase academic and scientific co-operation between the two nations.

Earlier on Monday, Francois Hollande bestowed France’s highest award, the Legion of Honour, on the head of the Catholic Church in Cuba, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

The Cuban Catholic Church has acted as a mediator between dissidents and the Communist government.

Unlike some other European countries, France has long maintained reasonably good relations with Cuba and wants to benefit from the new economic openness.

After landing at Havana airport, Francois Hollande said the visit was a moment of “great emotion”.

Before arriving, Francois Hollande told reporters that France sought to “be the first among European nations, and the first among Western nations, to be able to say to the Cubans that we will be at their side if they decide themselves to take needed steps toward opening up”.

A number of high-ranking US and European politicians have visited Cuba since December 17, when the US and Cuba announced they would move towards re-establishing diplomatic ties.

They include New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini and top diplomats from Japan and Russia.

The US government has approved a ferry service between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years.

Services between the two countries stopped when the US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba in 1960.

The US announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba in December 2014.

The US government has now lifted the ban and a number of ferry companies say they have been given licenses.

The latest announcement does not necessarily mean that boats will start launching for Cuban shores straight away, as there are bureaucratic hurdles to overcome in both countries.Florida Cuba ferry service approved

However, the move is another indication of Washington’s desire to put the policies of isolating Cuba in the past and begin a new era of co-operation.

President of the Miami-based United Americas Shipping Services Joseph Hinson called the move “a great step forward”.

Joseph Hinson said that “if all goes smoothly we could have things up and running by September”.

Havana Ferry Partners of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said it also had a license.

“This is a historical event. Thanks to President Barack Obama, to whom we are very grateful, for his leadership,” the company wrote on its Facebook page.

Ferries will also be allowed to transport cargo to Cuba, which sits 90 miles from southern Florida.

A new charter flight service from New York City, operated by JetBlue, had already been announced.

The service was agreed during a recent trade delegation of New York-based companies to Cuba, led by state governor Andrew Cuomo.

Despite the new flights and ferry services, a travel ban on Cuba is still in place for US citizens.

Only those who have the right paperwork in 12 different categories are permitted to visit Cuba.


Fidel Castro made his first public appearance in more than a year on Monday, March 30, greeting a delegation of Venezuelans, official media reported on April 4.

The 88-year-old former Cuban appeared to be full of vitality, official media reported.

It was his first known appearance outside his home since Cuba in December agreed to normalize relations with the US, Fidel Castro’s longtime adversary.

Official media showed images of a seated Fidel Castro shaking hands with the visiting Venezuelans through the window of his vehicle, wearing a baseball cap and a windbreaker.

Photo Miami Herald

Photo Miami Herald

There was no explanation why five days passed before the encounter was reported in Cuba.

Fidel Castro met at a school with 33 Venezuelans, who were on a solidarity mission to Cuba, for about 90 minutes. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, oil-rich Venezuela has become Communist Cuba’s closest ally and chief benefactor.

The former leader impressed the Venezuelans with a firm, long handshake and a lucid mind, the newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported in a writer’s first-person account.

Fidel Castro relayed “multiple details about life in Venezuela, especially now that this great nation has become the bull’s eye for imperial greed,” the report said, in apparent reference to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela that declared the South American nation a national security threat.

“Fidel is full of vitality,” the report said.

Fidel Castro’s last previous public sighting came on January 8, 2014, at the opening of a Havana cultural center sponsored by one of his favorite Cuban artists, Alexis Leyva, alias Kcho.

In December 2014, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel Castro’s younger brother, announced they would re-establish diplomatic ties, opening a new era in the previously turbulent relations that arose after the Castros came to power in 1959.

Fidel Castro stepped down due to illness provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008, handing off to his younger brother Raul, now 83. Fidel Castro writes an occasional newspaper column, receives dignitaries at home, and rarely appears in public.

His current role in policy-making is unknown. Many Cubans presume Raul Castro consults with his brother on major decisions, and Fidel Castro’s long silence after the December announcement raised questions about his health and whether he agreed with the rapprochement with the Americans.

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